Move over, living room. Your car is now your new entertainment center because really, why should you settle for less-than-amazing sounds when you spend hours every day behind the wheel?
Whether it’s to keep the kids quiet and happy, to keep you upbeat with your jam, let your wife enjoy some car karaoke, or to keep you sane during a long drive, there are many reasons why you should consider improving your car’s head unit.
By upgrading this part, you can greatly improve the audio system and expand the functionality of the built-in car stereo. What most people do not realize is how this simple swap can open you to a whole world of opportunities.
This is because car stereos nowadays do much more than just tune in to the radio. Technology has definitely expanded it to include Bluetooth connection with your phone, hands-free calling, navigation, and satellite radio.
Beyond that, it gives you ways to make the music sound better through manual adjustment of equalization, how much power you can use with your speakers and other similar options.
There are two different kinds of head units out there: the single DIN and the double DIN. The difference can be found in the size, with the double DIN, as the name suggests, twice as big as the single version.
A double DIN, therefore, takes up more space in your dashboard, but this is why it is a great investment. Because of its size, it can accommodate more features.
Among the best is the existence of a big screen, which opens up a lot more opportunities for you like playing movies.
Is It Worth The Upgrade?
Newer cars already have some decent head units pre-installed but not all of them come are so equipped, and car buyers an option to choose which stereo will be included in the model. Despite this, you might also not realize how much a really good double DIN head can improve your listening and entertainment experience.
If you are also a music fan, this type of improvement goes along very well with installing subwoofers and amps to provide you with the best quality.
At the same time, a top-of-the-line unit will allow you more options than playing a CD or the radio. With a Bluetooth connection with your phone, you may access your favorite tunes or use music streaming services.
Lastly, it allows you to continue making calls without having to hold your cellphone. These advantages can really make the upgrade more than worth it.
Things to Look For in a Head Unit
Just like other products, expensive does not always automatically mean better, and more features might not actually be the best. First of all, it should suit your wants and needs.
If you want to install some upgraded hardware like speakers as well, then factor this in your choice of a double DIN head unit. If you have children that would love to be able to watch movies while in the car with you, then you can find one with exactly this capability.
Beyond that, you should also look at some important aspects like:
Many buyers focus too much on what features a double DIN head unit has. However, much like you would do when buying a phone or a computer, it also makes sense to look at the specs.
For a head unit this means the power output, customization options, and the interface. These three decide whether it has high or low quality.
Even if you are not sure how to really tinker with an equalizer to improve music quality, it makes sense to buy one with expansive audio features. Spend time afterward playing around with the settings to find out what sounds amazing for you.
It is quite standard to get a double DIN head unit that has Bluetooth connectivity, however, it does not mean that they are all the same thing. The better ones are able to link with more than one device.
More than that, if you want to install some extra speakers, better check its output capabilities.
Your car’s entertainment system is nothing like your home’s. You will not be able to navigate through many remote controls because, well, you should focus on driving.
This is why a feature-laden double DIN head unit with a simple interface is ideal. Having less but bigger controls is better than a lot of smaller ones.
You may also confer to what people vote as the best double DIN head unit, based on actual buyers’ reviews and votes:
The 5 Best Double DIN Head Units
1. Pioneer AVH-X4800BS
What We Like
- Built-in iPod, iPhone, and iPad control
- Huge touchscreen
- Built-in amplifier
From the first look, it would be tough to find something not to like with this head unit. Its large touchscreen makes it so easy to navigate, much like your smartphone.
And like your favorite device, you can change from landscape to portrait view, making it easier for you, the driver, to view your unit. It also goes way beyond just playing music, with its DVD player and video playback capabilities.
Now you will not have to worry about bored young children kicking your seat repeatedly. Keep them entertained with their favorite movies or shows.
No kids? Don’t worry, it’s still the best head unit for you single party animals. Wow your friends with your DJ-ing skills with MIXTRAX, where you can incorporate sound effects and even lighting to match your music.
The built-in amplifier rounds up this all-in-one entertainment center.
2. Kenwood DDX773BH
What We Like
- Advanced audio controls
- Fast Android smartphone charging
- Built-in iPod, iPhone and iPad controls
This head unit is perfect for those who want to turn their car into a virtual surround-sound entertainment center. Beyond having preamp outputs for your car, there are extensive controls for perfecting the audio.
This will allow you to fully maximize your gear and make your car’s entertainment center unlike any other. Just from its wonderful audio options, your purchase of this model is really worth it.
Low on juice? No problem, because this head unit’s USB ports allow you to plug your phone in with the option for fast charging in select Android models.
There is certainly no need to carry that bulky mobile charger when you have your car.
Lastly, much like other top double DIN head units, you are able to connect to various music sources, whether it is your phone or other Bluetooth or USB capable device.
3. JVC KW-R920BTS
What We Like
- Jukebox-like Kinderwagen
- Siri Eyes Free voice control
- Dual smartphone Bluetooth connection
Just because it does not play videos does not mean this double DIN unit is not good. After all, it is better to keep your eyes on the road.
The JVC makes up for what it lacks by having a huge variety of audio formats it can play. Using various music sources like Spotify or Pandora will keep you entertained enough even when you are stuck in traffic.
These features, as well as the wireless remote control, gives you access to some great features without distracting you from your main task, driving.This is even enhanced by the Siri Eyes Free voice control and Android Open Accessory, which make it possible for you to control your phone and make calls while you are driving.
4. Jensen VX3022
What We Like
- External microphone
- 3-band equalizer
- Subwoofer controls
Equipped with output options to improve sound as well as controls to tinker with the settings, this model is perfect for someone with sensitive listening skills and who can balance them to come up with the best quality sound.
Installing the VX3022 is also quite easy, and you will be able to retain your steering wheel controls, making this double DIN head unit not too complex for DIY upgraders.
The possibilities with this unit are endless. With Bluetooth and USB connectivity available and the large touchscreen display, you can play most audio and video formats easily.
You can also use your phone easily while connected. Moreover, with its special external microphone, you would not have to end up screaming on your phone so the other person on the line will understand you.
5. Pioneer AVHX5800BHS
What We Like
- Auto-equalization feature
- Built-in HD Radio tuner
- AppRadio One
Another feature-laden double DIN unit from Pioneer, this model allows you to control the audio settings to make it sound as wonderful as you want it to be.
Not really sure how to adjust the settings? No problem, you can always use the auto-equalizer to do it for you. So you can sit back, relax, and listen to the top quality music or video coming out of your stereo head unit.
The built-in HD radio tuner makes it easy for you to listen to music with a CD-quality you will absolutely love. After all, this unit is made for wonderful audio, you will not believe you endured that stock stereo for so long.
Connecting with your phone is also no biggie nowadays, but with the Android AppRadio One, controlling your Android phone became much easier by giving you access on the huge touchscreen instead.
Talk about great quality and ease of use.
There are many units out there that have similar features, like the capability to connect with one or two phones, and even support HD or satellite radio. What sets the best ones apart are the output options and the highly customizable audio settings to go crazy with the bass, if that’s your thing.
In the end, your car is like your own sanctuary, especially when you drive mostly alone. So why not upgrade it for some solo car karaoke sessions?
Apart from reading about a double DIN head unit’s features, it is important to check reviews and get an actual buyer’s perspective on the model before buying it.
It is the only way to be sure to find one that does not just sound perfect, but is really proven to be so.